An exciting range of Spanish wines was recently dropped into my lap to taste. Without even tasting, I was stoked. Five wines, three red and two white, made from a variety of grapes over a wide range of climate and soils from all over Spain. This was a one-stop shop for exploring Spanish wines. Reading the back of the labels further piqued my interest – this range of Spanish wines are made by Englishman Ed Adams MW and South African winemaker Bruce Jack, an interesting international combo.
The wines of Spain have been embracing modernisation in a rush since the late 80s when Spain joined the European Union. For La Bascula and winemaker Bruce Jack that modernisation is helped along by Jack having cut his wine-making teeth in Australia, Bordeaux, California and at home in South Africa before joining Ed Adams in their La Bascula venture. Bringing with him techniques and experience from the wider wine world.
They have www.caros.co.nz listed as their New Zealand distributor.
2012 Heights of the Charge Verdejo & Viura, La Bascula, Rueda DO
13.5% alc/vol RRP $21.99
Rueda DO sits between Toro and Ribera del Duero – both famous for making deeply coloured, tannic reds made from Tempranillo. Rueda stands apart as it focuses primarily on white grapes with fruity, light wines made from Verdejo and Sauvignon Blanc. Verdejo is the traditional grape of Rueda and any blended wines from the region must have at least 50 per cent Verdejo.
The Heights of the Charge from La Bascula blends Verdejo with Viura, a grape seen more widely in Catalunya where it’s known as Macabeo and is used in Cava production. The resulting wine is clear, medium lemon coloured with a huge hit of youthful white peach and nectarine. The wine is bright, cheerful and ready to drink now. Developing in the glass the wine gives a delicate almond meal and olive oil character with high alcohol, low acidity and a creamy texture from oak fermentation.
2010 Catalan Eagle Organic Granacha Blanca and Viognier, La Bascula, Terra Alta DO
13.5% alc/vol RRP $21.99
Terra Alta DO sits within the borders of Catalunya with a warm, Mediterranean climate, inland on the slopes, plateaux and valleys of the surrounding hills. As with most of Spain there are a mix of local and international varieties grown. However, here in the north east, local varieties have shown limited potential for quality wines and better wines are being made more easily from international varieties. The warm, dry conditions minimise the risk for rot or mildew, allowing for wines to be made organically.
The Catalan Eagle is a blended, organic white with a strikingly clear, medium gold colour with 60% Garnacha Blanca, 25% Viognier and 15% Roussanne. The wine is youthful with plenty of primary peach, dried apricot and orange rinds notes. All fresh aromatic notes along with the more developing characteristics of vanilla and cloves. The wine is dry, has medium acidity and high alcohol, and is richly textured with a honied, mead-ish quality. There’s a sharp bitterness on the medium finish.
2011 Catalan Eagle Granacha, Cariñena & Syrah, La Bascula, Terra Alta DO
14% alc/vol RRP $21.99
The second wine from Terra Alta DO, this time made from black grape varieties Granacha, Cainena and Syrah. This is the partner to the White Catalan Eagle. According to their website, the Red Catalan Eagle also operates under organic principles and the wines made from 2012 will be fully certified as such.
The Red Catalan Eagle is a clear, generously coloured medium garnet wine with pronounced aromatic notes of blackcurrant mixing with a savoury character of liquorice. Made from a blend of old vine Granacha, Cariñena and Syrah with a touch of Cabernet. The wine is dry with high alcohol, drying tannins, low acidity and a medium, smoky finish.
2010 The Charge Tempranillo & Granacha, La Bascula, Rioja DOCa
14% alc/vol RRP $21.99
Rioja DOCa is one of only two regions in Spain to have the Denominacion de Origen Calificada status. DOCa is the most prestigious category in the hierarchy of Spanish wines. Rioja is split into three distinct sub-regions with varying soils and climates. Situated along the River Ebro, vines in the west of the region are planted at altitude to moderate the hot summer temperatures; to the east of the region the continental climate becomes more extreme resulting in a shift towards Granacha grapes that thrive in the hotter, drier conditions. Both traditional and more modern examples of Rioja are blended allowing for a mix of the full-bodied, high-alcohol Granacha of Rioja Baja with the deeply coloured, tannic Tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta. The more traditional wines were defined by long periods of oxidative ageing, while newer examples show more primary fruit and obvious oak.
The Charge from La Bascula blends 75% Tempranillo with Granacha and a small amount of Graciano and is a clean, fresh, modern example of a Rioja. Giving us a clear, deeply coloured ruby wine where you’ll find on the palate high alcohol, firm tannins, soft acid and a medium finish. The nose is chalky and drying with the obviously high alcohol in the wine and the developing notes of cloves and smoke from the oak maturation. On the palate there is more evidence of time spent in oak with further smokiness, integrated with notes of blackcurrant, raspberry and a smooth, rich texture. This is a good quality, food-friendly wine.
2008 The Gauntlett Monastrell, La Bascula, Yecla DO
14% alc/vol RRP $33.99
On the Southeast coast of Spain, below Catalunya is a region known as the Levante. Here you’ll find a hot Mediterranean climate. Inland from the coast there’s Yecla DO where the vineyards are dominated by Monastrell, a deeply coloured, high tannin, high acid powerful red. In Yecla and neighbouring Jumilla DO – in general – the harsh tannins of Monastrell are managed through carbonic maceration resulting in a more fruit-forward style of wine.
The Gauntlett isn’t made through carbonic maceration, instead it undergoes a cold soak. A cold soak allows for the extraction of colour and flavour without extracting tannins. This helps create a deeply coloured ruby wine with good texture and medium body, a touch of red fruit and soft, velvety tannins. The wine has low acidity, high alcohol and a very savoury character with flavours of white and black pepper, cloves and dark, plenty of chocolate.